Youth Work Hacks – a year later!

What a ride this year has been! Youth Work Hacks – the wee little blog that could – has grown into a fantastic space that I’m well proud to be a part of! It’s outgrowing me, which was always the dream.

So what’s been happening that’s causing the hoohar?

Well first, some big sites like Youth Specialties have picked up on some of our posts and have been trending them. That’s cool right?

Second, we got some cracking guest posts written for us by AMAZING people – and now there’s more coming in the pipeline.

Speaking of guest posts, we ran an international series called ‘Youth Work Around The Globe’ looking at Hungary, South Africa and Aboriginal Australia. That caught the attention of someone who will be publishing a similar book this year.

We’ve spread out too, writing quite a few things for the likes of Premier Youth Work blog, and Lead Anyone. And I was approached to give an interview for The Longer Haul podcast which will go live soon.

Of course we can’t forget about our digital-resident comic, Chloe – whose deliciously satirical and sarcastic scribbles have boosted traffic and raised some great discussions in the social media world.

We also started spending money! (I know, right?) We bought domain names, switched to self hosting, and purchased a really decent theme… which we still haven’t totally figured out how to use.

Not that it’s about numbers (of course, ever….. :P), but it’s been great to see a steady stream of subscribers and unique hits each month too. It’s a niche, so numbers are not earth shattering – but we’re doing alright!

Staying with the lighter side, we’ve had fun breaking into the quiz would with ‘Which Simpsons Youth Worker Are You’ and ‘Which West Wing Secretary Do You Need?’ Watch this space for ‘What Kind Of Youth Worker Sandwich Are You?’

Finally, we started gently in the research direction by looking into how Youth Workers view, run and resource Small Groups. Interesting data gathered that will drive some of our future posts.

Fab year everybody – thanks for getting involved! Here’s to the next.

Tim

 

6 Announcement Slide Mistakes & How To Fix Them – by Lindsey Moss

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 09.28.21Great post from  Lindsey Moss of ChurchMediaTech.com. Re-posted with her permission. Check out the original here and have a browse through their other great articles here.

 

There are many studies published online confirming that visual cues help us retain information which is what I love so much about announcement slides! When you add visual cues to your announcement segment, it helps the congregation commit the information to memory.  I’ve also found from experience that engagement is higher when there is viewable information involved.

That being said, it can be easy to go overboard! I want to give you a few tips on how you can get the most out of your announcement slides by examining some common mistakes.

Let me first preface this by saying these are all optional changes. This is just an article written by your friendly neighborhood Designer who understands the frustrations that come along with creating announcement slides that will impact your congregation. I want to make things easier for you. So let’s get started!

To help you see the difference it can make, I’m going to show you how I took the slide on the left and transformed it into the slide on the right by fixing these six announcement slide missteps.

BaA.jpg

1. Wrong Image Size or Resolution

ConnectionCafeSlide2.jpg

As you can see in the first image, there are black bars on either side of the image. These typically happens when the slide isn’t the same size as your screen. You should reference your screen and projector manual to see what the best image size and pixel ratio is for your setup to avoid stretching, black bars, and pixelation. For reference, for a typical HD slide I set the image size to 1920 x 1080 px, resolution to 72, the color palette to RGB and I export as a jpg. This will usually give you the best color profile and size for your projector without the file size being out of control.

So, let’s fix the image size…

ConnectionCafeSlide3.jpg

2. Misuse of Photos

Okay, now that our black bars are gone we have another issue here; there’s a watermark on the photo. I understand that many church budgets for announcement slide elements is minimal or non existent so I’m going to replace it with a photo from pexels.com. This website provides a wide variety of photos you can use for anything! You want to avoid using photos from Google, Pinterest, or images that include watermarks.

Now, you don’t have to use a photo! You can easily use a graphic. Do whatever you like best. I personally find images easier to work with for those that don’t have much design experience but they still want their slides to look professional. Also, I want to change the photo to something that implies a sense of community and conversation. Let’s try something like this…

ConnectionCafeSlide4.jpg

 

3. Mismatched Fonts

Awesome! We’re definitely getting somewhere. Now, let’s address the use of font here. The text has a slight drop shadow, which is always a great way to enhance the legibility, but the words don’t seem to flow with the image. You definitely want your slide to have character, but using too many fonts can be overwhelming. Here’s an awesome article on pairing fonts by Brady Shearer. For this slide, we’re going to only use two fonts.

I’m going to use Bebas Neue for the Title and Information because it’s bold and easy to read, and I’m going to use RachelHand Medium for the Subtitle to give it the feeling of a hand written note that fits the feel of connection like the photo.

Here it is… 

ConnectionCafeSlide5.jpg

 

4. Misuse of Logos

Now, we have to address what I think is the most serious offense in this slide; the misuse of the church logo. Even if your church doesn’t have branding guidelines, it’s never a good idea to change the color, shape, proportions, or elements of the logo.

Your logo is a visual representation of your church and the last thing you want to do is give the impression that you don’t take the identity of your church seriously. I know that seems a bit harsh, but it’s true. It’s important to be consistent with your branding so you can be easily identified.

Now, let’s say that my church logo is neon pink. Neon pink isn’t going to fit so well on a slide about a chill session over some lattes. So what do you do? The best option in this case is to simply use a watermark. By using a white version of your logo and lowering the opacity to somewhere around 60% you’ll still get the visual of your logo without the overpowering look of neon pink.

Let’s see the slide with the watermark version of the logo in the correct size, and proportions… 

ConnectionCafeSlide6.jpg

5. Too Many Colors

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s take a look at the colors. First of all, I don’t necessarily have a problem with mixing colors. Sometimes it can take a bland slide and make it much more intriguing! However, when you’re working with a background image as bold as this photo, it’s important that we aren’t distracting viewers from the overall feel of the image by our color choices.

For this slide, I’m going to make all the font the same color. There is already some visual diversity with the mixing of fonts so it won’t seem bland, and the consistency of color will help the entire slide come together.

Check it out…

ConnectionCafeSlide7.jpg

6. Too Much, or Too Little, Information

Okay ladies and gentlemen we’re almost home! Last, but certainly not least, is information! This is especially important if you’re planning to have a slideshow of your announcements playing pre-service. If there isn’t enough information on the slide, the viewer doesn’t have much to go on and will soon lose interest, if there’s too much information they may not have time to read all of it before it progresses to the next slide.

Let’s condense our information into a single line. Something that can be read quickly and retained easily.

You want to answer the following questions in as few words as possible:

What? When? Where? and SOMETIMES Why? (see what I did there?) You don’t always have to include the why because sometimes it’s obvious. Other times, like for a fundraiser, you may want to add why this event is important.

In the case of this slide the answers to these questions are: Connection Cafe, before and after the service, in the Welcome Area, to drink some coffee and create community.

We’re going to highlight this information by adding a dark brown rectangle behind it and lowering the opacity of that rectangle to 80%. If certain elements of a slide start to look too separate or overpowering, lowering the opacity is a great way to blend everything together.

Here it is folks! Our finished slide!

ConnectionCafeSlide.jpg

 

You can download this background image for free here: https://www.pexels.com/photo/restaurant-hands-people-coffee-5362/

You can download Bebas Neue for free here: http://www.dafont.com/bebas-neue.font

You can download RachelHand Medium for free here: http://www.dafont.com/rachelhand.font

Rules young people want to add to Social Media.

For a young person social media can be a Crystal Maze of awkwardness and mind games – full of traps and ambushes with a prevailing sense of kill or be killed!

We run training for teachers, youth workers and young people themselves on how to stay safe in social media. Yesterday we shook this this up a bit and asked a bunch of young people what new rules or laws they would add to online behaviour.

This question came from the Youth For Christ, Rock Solid Playing Cards. A great resource available here.

Here are their responses, unchanged and unchallenged. What do you think? Particularly think about what fears these answers reveal and how we could respond to them:

– You should not be allowed to comment on something if you haven’t read or watched it through.

– If you wouldn’t say it to their face in front of a crowd, then don’t comment it on their status.

– Keep your opinions to yourself – no liking or disliking it at all.

– You should only be able to publicly comment on a post with the creator’s permission.

– Fake profiles should always have a ‘this person is fake, don’t trust them’ warning on them.

– When feeling bad, you should be able to ask for help and have people reply properly without trolling or silly jokes – real help.

– All comments should be made by video.

– No comments should be anonymous.

– All ‘offensive’ trolling should be banned.

– You should be able to see who is looking at your photos.

– Can’t tag random people without their permission first – or be allowed to share a photo of them anywhere without their permission first.

– Don’t allow friends to talk to you about social media if you don’t have social media.

– Don’t celebrate something others don’t have (like Christmas) in case it offends them.

– Use your real name .

– Stop correcting people’s English.

– No ALL CAPS!

– Ban all manipulative ‘scroll down to ignore, like or comment if you care’ posts.

– Stop trolling everyone!

– Clamp down on internet slang.

– Ban click bait pages that only make you like them just to give publicity to other pages.

– Limit on what & how much you can share – awful posts should be vetted first.

– Too many selfies!!!

– Don’t allow statuses about an ex .

– Don’t allow statuses about ‘people you know’ without saying their names – especially when it’s obvious!

– Clamp down on the crazy amount of likes people get when they have a baby.

– If you’re not a fan of a thing – don’t go on the page to knock it!

– Don’t allow anyone to change their name to ‘nobody’ – to stop the ‘nobody likes this’ gag.

– Two words: farmville requests

 

So there they are. Again, think about the fears and questions that these ideas reveal. I recommend asking the same question to your youth group, asking them what they think this reveals and asking how they would respond.

PA Hacks For The Mobile Youth Worker

We already know that Youth Workers are often expected to be all things to all people – and one of those things is ‘expert PA engineer.’

Making sound work for a variety of events and projects in an increasingly multi-media-driven generation is important. Making it work simply is the nightmare! Add to this that the Youth Worker on the go needs to be mobile, needs to get things setup quickly and really needs sound to just work first time, every time.

Rapid, mobile, versatile with plug-and-play usability is the mantra for the Youth Worker PA tool kit! This isn’t a post to compare the very best in large rigs for events and bands (borrow one from your local school!). This is a post of recommendations for small, simple and mobile solutions for the Youth Worker that needs to travel, setup and use multi-media regularly.

There are loads of mobile options for PA Hacks out there – I’m going to give you three.

The Bluetooth Speaker

I travel with a Bluetooth Speaker that is powerful enough to fill a room with about 50 people absorbing the sound. I’ve used it outdoors for a festival seminar with my mobile phone, and for projected cinema nights from my laptop. Every week this travels with me in my laptop bag alongside a travel projector for youth clubs and school assemblies.

Which one?

You need to find the right balance between small and quality. The smaller you go the worse the sound will be, and the larger you go the less battery features and portability it will have. A basic rule of thumb is you need just two internal drivers (speakers) with at least 3 inch diameters. Don’t believe the hype of smaller units boasting big sounds (and charging big bucks for them!). Physics is physics – go and listen to them yourself.

I spent a month researching and testing many speakers including LG, Bose, Philips, Samsung and JVC.

5052449745948_280_IDShot_3I settled on a low budget 10w version made by Polaroid which is far louder and clearer than the many high end versions, including the high branded sound bars. It’s at ASDA for £40.00 – follow the link, but there’s a new version in store!

It’s well made, has good connectivity and a quality, loud sound for it’s size. It doesn’t overdo the bass (like its many other modern counterparts), and it doesn’t sound thin or tinny at high volumes. It will distort/peak in certain frequencies when turned right up, but for that you need a mobile PA/Combo Amp which we’ll look at next.

The Compact Acoustic Combo Amp

These little amps are portable amp+speaker units that you can carry with one hand and usually give you a couple of high quality channels. I think they are the frequently overlooked but absoltuely ideal option for most venues and uses. I use mine for live sound and music, plugging in a guitar and microphone, or two microphones simultaneously. It easily fills medium to large venues and can be plugged into a bigger PA if needed.

You’re better with an acoustic amp rather than an electric guitar or keyboard amp as they will alter the frequencies and ‘colour’ the sound. An acoustic amp gives you hi fi – or full spectrum – transparent sound, so things will sound the way they’re supposed to!

Which one?

It’s worth saying up front that they are a bit pricey, but – in my opinion – worth every penny!

Review-AER-Compact-60-3-Acoustic-AmpI use the AER Compact 60 III. Largely considered one of the best acoustic amps in the world. It is easily better sounding and louder than most PA systems that I run across in churches and schools. The AER gives you 2 XLR channels (so 2 microphones), one of which doubles us as a jack (guitar/keys/laptop etc.). I use this every week for leading worship, talks and quizzes. It easily fills large venues and is clear enough to cut through a full band.

The AER also has line outs for extra speakers, DI out for the PA and a basic – but very usable – reverb and EQ feature. Although down in price, now at £749 it will cost you. They also make a battery powered version at £1175. Both of these come with padded cases. I spent an extra £30 on mine to get a fold away stand to lift it off the floor and angle it upwards.

previewFor a slightly cheaper option to the AER with many of the same features, but a bit of compromise in sound quality, consider the Tanglewood T6. This comes in at £395 with 2 very usable channels, a reasonable reverb, DI out and padded bag.

It also has a couple of features the AER doesn’t: An AUX in and a top hat socket underneath so it can be mounted on a speaker stand. Great for a budget!

one8wwodhr-875x875If you need high sound quality, but more channels then consider writing to the Italian company ACUS for a ACUS ONE 5, 6, 8 or 10. These are small units with amazing build quality and a sound to (almost) rival the German AER. However, they come with more channels, outputs and better reverb.

Ranging from £300 – £1000 they give you far more options too. You can effectively run a full band from it and have it still remain mobile. The ACUS ONE 8 would be my pick for the best balance of features and affordability at £595.

Mobile PA System

The final step up is the mobile PA system. This again needs to fit in your car boot, be easy to transport on foot and quick to set up – however, with the extra versatility of separate speakers and more channels. It’s worth saying up front though that none of these options will give you the clarity of mobile sound that the AER or the ACUS amps will provide.

We have a seldom used mobile PA that comes out if we need a few more channels. It tends to compliment the acoustic amp rather than replace it though. If we need a big sound – we go straight for a big PA… but that’s not what this post is about!

Which one?

J06817000000000-00-500x500One of the best for mobility and sound quality is the Fender Passport. There are a few different options, but the Event model gives you 4 XLR channels and a few other ins & outs. They are built with high quality clip on speakers to make it easy to carry. This is a great model to throw in the car and will happy hosting most medium sized events. The Fender Passport ranges from £265 – £604 – with the Event model coming in at £468.

Other than this you can check out simple and affordable models from JBL, Yamaha or Kam – but honestly I think it’s a better investment to get a decent combo amp and beg/steal/borrow/hire bigger PAs when you need them.

What do you use?

We’d love to hear about your PA solutions for and effective sound! Comment or get involved with the facebook page and let us know! www.facebook.com/youthworkhacks

How to Create your own Digital Personal Assistant

There seems to be an irrefutable law of physics in the youth work world that the better you are with young people the worse you are with admin.

[Also see Time-Management in Youth Work]

Admin tends to fall into two categories – the blitz and the habitual. The former is what youth workers can do; the creative once in a while overhaul and setup. The latter is the every day throwing off the monkeys so you can shoot the elephants.

As with most youth leaders I too have sat in the fetal position, sucking my thumb muttering “too many monkeys, too many monkeys!”

I’ve been a youth worker in one form or another for about ten years or so, but it’s only in the past couple years that I’ve started to get my admin, PR and communication world on track. I’ve always been able to do the blitz, but I’ve only just started to get down the habitual… nearly. Sort of.

I have effectively created my own digital personal assistant, who I call Margaret after the West Wing’s Chief of Staff PA. Margaret is a collection of apps and software accessible from all my devices that makes all my habitual admin work.

Or you could raid your youth work budget and hire an actual PA. *lol*

Creating A Digital PA

1. What do we need?

For habitual youth work admin we need:

To be mobile – and have easy access to calenders, notes, to-do lists and contacts wherever we are.
To have easy access – to both read and edit all of the above very quickly.
To have instantaneous access – that will update on every device immediately and not rely on us getting to it later.
To be reminded – of what we’ve got to do and be without having to rely on our own memory.
To communicate – easily, clearly and professionally with all the people we have to work with.
To be available – reachable wherever we are… and not when we shouldn’t be.

2. What do we have?

I have three devices; an iPad (which I only use for note taking and talk notes), a laptop (which I use as my powerhouse hub for creating presentations and doing blitz admin sessions) and a mobile phone with unlimited data (which I use for most of my habitual stuff). The latter two I think are essential.

3. How do we make it work?

The following apps are what I use to make this process work:

Google Calenderindex
By far the best online calender. Available on the cloud and syncable with all major calender apps and devices. I share some calenders with team members, some with my line manager and some with my wife helping me see my whole world in context and communicate to those I need to.

I spend one hour a week updating this on Monday morning, and then lots of 30-second chunks in the week updating it when I have conversations or emails.

Every morning Goggle Calender emails me my daily schedule. I also set up notifications on events to let me know 15 or 30 minutes before I’m supposed to be there. This also gives you an excuse to leave if you’re tied up in a meeting (it beeps).

Finally I use ‘tasks’ on Google Calender to give me to do lists and send me notifications.

Using a calender widget on my phone it takes up to 30 seconds to create or edit a date or task. This means I can do it within a conversation or meeting and not have to remember it again. Well worth it!

Google Contactsindex2
Again syncable with all other major apps like Apple Address Book and your phones contact list. It takes a while to set up but once you’ve blitzed this it takes about 10 seconds to edit.

This is linked to my email, my phone, my calender, notes and tasks so I always have access to every person and group that I need.

It’s worth the extra effort to set up groups.

Dropbox
Dropbox (or google drive for a good alternative) is online flash storage. I keep all my documents on this. Not only can I get to anything I need anywhere but it means I have last minute sessions and talks available if something goes wrong.

The other great Dropbox feature is sharing. I have several folders that I share with other users so we can edit documents together in our own time without making crazy duplicates. I can also share files by creating dropbox download links and emailing them to people – no messing about with attachments.

Dropbox comes with 2gb but you can expand this quite a long way for free (I have 25gb free). It’s worth paying the £60 a year for a 100gb though.

Evernoteindex3
Evernote is a simple online note creation and organisation tool that I use for just about everything. I can type, photograph, video or record anything and save the note. Often in talks I will photograph the slides and make notes under it.

It’s searchable and easy to maneuver files into categories. You can access it online, sync it with other note software and has very usable apps. You can also download word processing and pdf attachments to it for easy access in meetings.

Evernote also comes with a dedicated email address so you can email notes directly into your Evernote notebook.

My Evernote phone widget is synced with Google Calender so when I take a new note (often using the very useful ‘speech-to-text’ feature) I can have it opened, labeled, titled, tagged, organized and saved within 5 seconds of picking up my phone.

Evernote allows me to work on talks and presentations wherever I am. I then use the Evernote app on my iPad as my talk notes.

Twuffer
For social media I probably don’t have to mention Facebook apps etc. However if you are a Twitter user and need to get info / prayer requests out regularly I recommend linking your Twitter feed to your Facebook timeline and using a free online app called ‘Twuffer.’

Twuffer allows you to schedule all your tweets in advance – something I do once a month with the help of my calender. This reminds my team and prayer warriors whats happening without me having to remember. Twuffer – unlike other tweet schedulers – does not add or change anything in your tweet.

PaperRater
A really simple online-based grammar, spelling and plagiarism checker – basically an online proofreader. It’s great for a quick scan through before sending long or important emails and is very detailed if you’re writing something more substantial.

The only draw back is you can’t copy and paste your proof-read articles so you have to edit your original – still great for the saved embarrassment though!

So…

Those are all the main things that I use to make up my own PA, Margaret. After the initial setup the upkeep of this is one hour a week Monday morning and an extra hour a month catchup. Beyond that these apps just work wherever I am often carrying no more than a phone in my pocket.

Margaret happily just gets on with her job and all the info I need and need to communicate is as easy as saving a document, sending a text or replying to an email.

Not that I’ve got this nailed yet, but the time and stress this has saved me has been fantastic!

I’d love to hear about any other apps or approaches that you have to habitual admin in the youth work world. Please comment below.

Surviving Camp With A Fully Charged Mobile Phone

hands-coffee-smartphone-technology

Getting though summer camp with a fully charged mobile phone is like running down the side of a mountain with a dirty martini trying desperately not to spill it – good luck!

From hurrying up the tardy group member, to locating the mini bus, to checking in with concerned parents, every precious little bit of juice matters.

If you’re at something like Soul Survivor, finding a charging port can be the difference between going to the right seminar (you know, the quiet one with the wall sockets) and having to queue in the tool shed for half an hour while feigning interest in a gap year that you’re obviously ten years too old for.

Follow these simple geeky tips to be economic with your juice and stay on top of the battery game this year:

Make your software work for you, not without you.

This is an easy one! Simply make sure you’re not using power-draining apps and background software that you don’t need.

  1. Go to your battery settings and find out what apps are using power. If you don’t need them, close them!
  2. Also check out what background apps are running in your settings – close those too. Always close apps from the background after you use them.
  3. Switch off wi-fi, tethering, bluetooth, data roaming and push email clients. Also switch from 3g or 4g to 2g (or GSM).
  4. Switch off location services and GPS (once you get there!).
  5. f you have a high deff or AMOLED screen, make sure your background and lock screen are set to just black.
  6. Speaking of the screen, manually set the brightness to the lowest you can handle and drop the timeout/standby time to as low as it will go (usually 15 seconds).
  7. Get rid of your phone’s vibrate setting, and put a boring but audible single tone ringtone on instead.
  8. Look into power management apps and widgets like ‘Power Control’ or ‘DU Battery Saver.’

Discover new ways of charging your phone.

A few little tweaks, and maybe a little money will go a long way to recharge your phone without having to stand on a friend’s shoulders to reach the maintenance plugs above the loos!

  1. Turn on aeroplane mode when charging. Aeroplane mode shuts down the processing power usually used to communicate to towers. This can speed up charging time by 10-25% depending on your phone.
  2. Invest in a car charger, and spend 30 mins to yourself in an evening charging your phone. If you’ve got a small petrol engine, then you’ll be wanting to run the car for 20 mins of that time.
  3. If you’ve got the option then go for a leisure battery or electric hook up so you can charge at camp.
  4. Invest in a decent power bar / portable battery with a high capacity. Amazon are selling Anker E6 20800mAh bars right now for about twenty quid!!! These should charge your phone 3-7 times.
  5. Don’t leave your charger anywhere! Not every nice Christian person is a nice Christian person.

Be thrifty with the vanity.

If you’re on camp – be on camp! I’m a big tweeter, instagramer and facebook user, but y’know what? I’m camping!!! so I can use those data-heavy and power-hungry apps when I get home! Bring a digital camera with you instead, or just photobomb everyone else!

Avoiding Design Disasters in Youthwork PR

DTP_T_dam_top-down_view

The youth work world contains a gauntlet of design disasters. Pursuing the average noticeboard takes more Ibuprofen than a serious man flu weekend.

Comic Sans, clipart, multi primary colours and more caps-italics than a Schwarzenegger trailer. This screams cheap, it screams fake and it screams don’t come here!

Substance is always more important than flash, but if you’re connecting with young people through visual PR then this is your first impression. If your first impression is cheesy and slapped together then you won’t get to make a second one. You can have the best substance in the world; terrific content, professional, relational ministry, but if the doorway looks like the gateway to a Teletubbies Convention then no one is coming in.

The good news is that you don’t need any professional skills. All you need is are few basic rules of thumb to create quality designs.

Colour Pallet

You should strictly stick to 2-5 colours. No more. And they should either harmonise with, or contrast against, the main colours.

The main colours (usually no more than 2) tend to be the background colour and the key feature (text or image) colour.

Look at the colour wheel below. A harmonising colour appears close to the original colour and a contrast colour appears directly opposite. So blue contrasts with yellow, green with orange etc.
Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 09.19.04

Try new things – consider adding opacity to a colour rather than changing the tone for instance.
“A tool I use loads for colour picking is this: color.adobe.com. It’s really helpful in picking contrasting or harmonising colours, and gives the rgb and hex details too.” [Great tip form Nick F. Check out his blog here.]

White Space / Balance / Noise

The most noticeable part of a visual design is what you don’t see. Every element (that’s an image, piece of text, diagram etc.) should have space around it to breathe, and those spaces should be consistent throughout. We call this breathing space ‘white space’ and it is what gives your elements framing, context and proportion.

Balance is exactly that, if you have one corner heavy with text and nothing in the opposite corner, it’s going to unevenly weighted. You can balance with intentional space, or with another similar weighted (size/substance) element.

Noise is what you get when you don’t make use of white space or balance. You don’t know where you rest your eyes so you end up taking nothing in.

Fonts

The easiest way to kill a good piece of design is layer it up with fonts. There are three rules with fonts:

1. Don’t use more than 2-3, and they should match up somehow.

2. Make sure the font’s a readable and fit the theme/style/audience. Fonts go in and out of fashion. Look around at what current products and magazines are using as these will be recognisable to the people your shooting for.

3. Avoid unnecessarily formatting. Underlining tends to be a no-no 99% of the time. As does bubble text, word shapes and silly shadows.

To hit all three of these, consider one crisp modern font (like helvetica) and play with alternating bold and fine and playing with character justification… like so:
Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 09.56.01

Information

You should only have the information you really need on a visual. Ideally date, time, venue, basics etc. But you should always, absolutely have a way to find out more. QR codes are wonderful. Generate a free one here. Otherwise Facebook addresses, emails, phone number etc. Any ways to find out more. Keep it clear, keep it simple.

 

 

Avoiding Design Disasters in Youthwork PR

 

Shoutout to fellow live bloggers…

reblog

I just returned from a weekend of blogging for Youthwork, the Conference in Eastbourne. It was a privilege to be there, to be involved and to work alongside two quality live bloggers in the British Youthwork world, Gemma Dunning and Chris Kidd.

I want to use this post as a wee shoutout to them both. They are producing quality content that’s well worth reading and connecting with. Cheers guys!

Catch up with Gemma Dunning’s blog @ www.gemmadunning.com

And with Chris Kidd @ www.chriskidd.co.uk

 

 

For a bunch more blog shoutouts click here.

Social Media Safety Lesson Plan (free download)

Social Media Safety Lesson Plan.

This is the first of a 2 part lesson plan we offer to Schools on the issues of Social Media Safety for Students. This has minimal explicit religious content and is aimed at building trust for the school while providing valuable training and awareness for young people on the issues of Social Media Safety.

This should happily fill a 50 minute lesson for most secondary school age groups. It’s based around dynamic conversation and group work steered through you the facilitator. This is a far less authoritarian way of raising and taking these issues.

This is a free download and you are free to use, adapt and it as far as it is useful. Please do point people back here if it has been useful to you. Thanks!

Download Here: Social Media Safety pdf (3 pages)

Viral Youth Ministry Part 1. Online Community IS Community.

Social-media-for-public-relations1Ask FM, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter et al – the city gates of a new century. They are what coffee shops and pubs we’re to the generation before: the hub of community, gossip, news and living interactions with real people.

“Communities have social rules, cliques, groups, hierarchies, activities and spaces. You will find all of these in the villages of social media.”

About this time last year I ran a training day on how to juggle social media and child safeguarding in youth ministry. The aim was to dovetail the two together and empower youth workers to be involved in online spaces responsibly.

The session was a success and has since been highly requested, so I will attempt to unpack some of the presentation parts of it over the next few posts.

Part 1. Online Community IS Community.

Community is defined as the condition of gathering and sharing with real people with real attitudes and experiences. Communities have social rules, cliques, groups, hierarchies, activities and spaces. You will find all of these in the villages of social media.

The inter-connectivity of social media sites within themselves, with each other and with off-community internet sites through via sharing creates a very real social digital world. Social media spaces are villages with easy public transport between them. Your avatar travels, takes photos, has experiences and leaves marks. Avatars are born and die all the time, and are not always what you think.

Digital community relates to ‘natural’ community (that which is outside the online world) in three potential ways:

1. Digital Community as Extension of Natural Community

2. Digital Community as Distinct from Natural Community

3. Digital Community as Memorabilia of Natural Community

God loves community and it is his plan to see his community ideals put into effect everywhere that community springs up. Wee need to be his fellow workers, on His team to create this in the digital world that is flourishing.

1. Digital Community as Extension of Natural Community
A foot in both worlds might be another way of putting this. One has a natural community experience then continues it on through sharing in social interactions online. Or a friendship that blossoms through meeting in reality takes on new layers and depths through online interaction.

“Ask FM, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter et al – the city gates of a new century.”

Extension of natural community is a hi-tech way of sending notes, owning walkie-talkies or sharing scrapbooks on the life and experiences that happen to you and your friends.

This in the main is a relatively safe way of belonging to the Digital Community. It all comes down to balance – does the digital extend and supplement the natural, or is it the other way around?

For a youth group, a Facebook page is a great way of sharing memories, carrying on conversations, creating deeper friendships and advertising projects. This works as an extension of the youth group meeting in reality.

2. Digital Community as Distinct from Natural Community
This is perhaps where most unhealthy interactions with natural community crop us. Distinct is when one has a totally separate identity or life online from the one that is lived in reality.

Distinct online life be as simple as telling a few fibs to test some social waters or make yourself look cooler. It can however be as full blown as multiple personality disorder leading to a segregation of the self with some disastrous results. For instance, this is from where cyber self harm often originates.

When the two communities are thrust back together (like meeting someone in reality that you met online first) the pieces often don’t fit and at best expectations are let down and at worst you have situations that you read about in the news.

For a youth group, you can inadvertently create groups online that allow different characteristics of your members to surface unknowingly which can feel like you have an online group and a natural group of the same people but with different personalities. We need to manage and moderate content well and not be afraid to talk about the differences we see as a result.

Excursus: Digital Community as Replacement for Natural Community
In the worst case scenarios, distinct turns into replacement when again the balance shifts (just like in extension) and the individual starts to see the online world and persona as the real world and persona. For all intents and purposes they live online.

This is incredibly unhealthy as it bears all the marks of escapism and denial which can fester or awaken bipolar, mania, paranoia and other serious mental / social health difficulties.

“God loves community and it is his plan to see his community ideals put into effect everywhere that community springs up.”

3. Digital Community as Memorabilia of Natural Community
Remember the ‘find your classmates’ site? This was – for many of us in our late 20s and beyond – how social media began. Digital community can simply be a place to catch up without actually relating. You view pictures, and read what people are up to – and you share the same, but you don’t comment and you don’t seek responses. It is simply a bulletin board of memories and experiences.

For a youth group this is the safest (albeit most boring) community space to set up. A site that shares photos and stories of your group’s exploits but without having any real time, or roving avatar interactions.

All a Question of Balance
When it comes to online community you need to think balance. How do you as a youth worker keep the balance on the natural and the real, without diminishing or disregarding the digital. How do you keep a check on spaces  that you manage to ensure that real interactions are happening safely and unmolested while creating boundaries that allow only appropriate interactions.

For me, this means 9 times out of 10 I use pages rather than groups. I have several adult moderators from within and outside the youth group structure within the spaces. I avoid personal spaces (like private chat) and I avoid off wall content. I keep a daily check on what is being posted and I call people out – in person, not online – for abusing the community space.

Next time – Social Media Spaces: from the playground to the bedroom, do you know where you are?

 

Viral Youth Ministry.